Animal Charity

Concept artist Ai Weiwei joins first International Animal Welfare Summit in Vienna

Theme of IAWS 2018: "Animal welfare: question of the future or luxury problem?"


China's most renowned contemporary artist Ai Weiwei will join the International Animal Welfare Summit (IAWS) on 24thApril 2018 in Vienna. International animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS is organising the event for the first time at the orangery of Schönbrunn Palace. Alongside Ai Weiwei, high-ranking experts from the fields of nutrition, agriculture and politics will speak. Controversial discussions are to be expected, given the thought-provoking theme of the summit: “Animal welfare – question of the future or luxury problem?”.

It is the aim of the International Animal Welfare Summit to raise awareness of the importance of animal welfare in a global context, to provide food for thought and to stimulate discussion. Concept artist Ai Weiwei wants to contribute to that: "We live in a world where respectful coexistence seems to become more and more problematic. This includes all living beings. It is meaningful to discuss how we need to shape the future in order to regain more mutual responsibility."

Heli Dungler, founder and president of FOUR PAWS who organised the summit, appreciates the participation of the exceptional Chinese artist. "The IAWS should be a conscious exchange of different, even controversial, perspectives to shed light on the importance of animal welfare in our society thoroughly and from all sides. We look forward to lively discussions and new insights with international participants from the fields of politics, economics, gastronomy and art. Everyone will make their valuable contribution to animal welfare."

Speakers and participants from all over the world

Following the opening by Austrian Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen, who has assumed patronage for the IAWS, EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis will launch the summit. The subsequent keynote on ‘A planet for all?’ will be delivered by well-known author, activist and scientist Raj Patel. His work focuses mainly on globalisation and food sovereignty. Concept artist and activist Ai Weiwei will take the stage at IAWS as a special guest. Currently, he holds the position of Einstein Visiting Professor at the Berlin University of the Arts. His first feature-length documentary Human Flow premiered in 2017 at the 74th Venice Film Festival.

Under the banner of nutrition and economics

The afternoon is dedicated to the themes of habitat, economics and nutrition. "Especially in terms of economy and nutrition, we want to raise the questions: Is animal welfare a real added value or just a passing trend? Is it a competitive advantage for companies, or do they see it as a risk rather than an opportunity?" says Heli Dungler. The future of nutrition and alternative nutritional concepts will be discussed as well as the tension between animal welfare, sustainability and ethics on the one hand and purely business goals on the other. Furthermore, the summit deliberately focuses on a very current consumer issue by having a discussion on quality labels.

A limited number of tickets for IAWS 2018 can still be purchased here:

Hannah Baker

Head of Communications UK 

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